Because I was listening to Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier’s Smodcast the other day, I quite by accident learned about a delightful creature known as the Cymothoa exigua. Because it is horrible and deeply, deeply disturbing, I am sharing it here with you.
Pictured to the right is the Cymothoa exigua in the mouth of a spotted rose snapper. The fish is not eating it. That’s because the Cymothoa exigua has evolved to fill a very particular and peculiar ecological niche. When a Cymo spots a passing spotted rose snapper, he quickly approaches the fish and swims alongside, until he can swim inside it’s mouth. (I so have the willies right now.) Once there, the Cymo clamps down on the base of the fish’s tongue, where it stays from there on.
Inside the fish’s mouth, the little Cymo feeds on the fish’s blood and/or mucus until the tongue eventually atrophies from lack of blood and falls off. The Cymo then clamps onto the fish’s exposed tongue muscles, and from that point on the fish has full use of the Cymothoa exigua itself as a surrogate tongue.
If there is a god, he is one fucked up dude.